Benefits of smart home automation

Liv looks into the technologies that enable you to live your best life. From your circadian rhythm to automated climate control.

How can smart lighting and shading improve your health?

Since the recent boom in at-home fitness products and an increased focus on wellbeing, the market is flooded with offerings from Peloton to the Apple Watch. While these features are fantastic ways to improve your fitness levels, there are many ways in which much more tailored and personal smart home automation features can help your overall wellbeing in ways that these easy-install products cannot. Certain smart home automation features, in particular lighting and shading, have direct effects on the body functioning and our ability to function in the healthiest and most productive manner and it’s time we look at them in further detail.

Our Body Clocks

The concept of our body clock otherwise known as our circadian rhythm is a natural process that usually occurs over a 24-hour cycle, although for many people, they can be slightly longer. It predominantly relates to the effects of light and dark on the body and how sleep can be regulated. Natural light is a vital ingredient to our wellbeing which is why winters tend to feel a lot more draining on the body.
We tend to spend more and more time away from natural sunlight, whether this is because one’s work routine simply keeps them inside or just one’s daily habits. Either way, our bodies still crave natural light to help regulate our cycle. Without this essential light, we start to feel off-balance and lethargic which if not kept in check can lead to a variety of ailments from exhaustion to depression.

Diagram of our 24-hour circadian rhythm

How can smart technology aid our circadian rhythms?

So how can smart homes combined with modern technology help restore our inner balance?
We start with trying to replicate what would be a natural rhythm and bring it indoors. We tie Lighting, Shading and Temperature control all into one easy to use interface that with a simple tap of a control can transform your space. Smart home automation can help to conform to your circadian rhythm back into its natural routine using a few simple measures.
The timing of when light is introduced into your bedroom has a big effect on your body clock. If any light is introduced too early or too late, your rhythm will be thrown and functions such as concentration, energy, metabolism and hormone levels are disrupted.
Automated blinds or curtains can be programmed to close with sunset and open just before sunrise and to allow your body to be woken by the natural light. Sleeping in a dark room also helps to reduce outside influences such as light pollution.
Temperature control can help to regulate your body temperature while your sleep, being too hot or too cold while you sleep can lead to a restless night and interruption of your cycle.
With whole-home automation systems, such as Savant, you can create ‘scenes’ that bring together the different technologies you have in your home with a simple tap.  For example, you can create a bedtime scene in your bedroom that will close your shades whilst simultaneously dimming the lights to a warm and ambient level and setting an overnight temperature to your optimum favourite. With Savant in control, your bedtime routine can be automatically adapted through the year as the times of darkness change so that no matter the month your bedroom is set to the ideal levels when you need it.

Smart Lighting and Heath

So why does having smart lighting benefit your health?  The hormone that makes the body feel tired, Melatonin, is directly affected by light. Production is controlled by our circadian rhythm and within the 24-hour cycle, it begins to release in the early evening, increasing until we fall asleep. It continues to be released throughout the night and stops just before we wake up, with undetectable levels in the daytime.
Our circadian rhythms evolved using sunrise and sunset as guides for Melatonin production, therefore the introduction of light between sunset and sunrise signals to the body to delay/stop melatonin production causing a delay in feeling tired or feeling awake, which is why light has a substantial impact on our sleep patterns. The delay in the production of the hormone is determined not just by how bright the light is, but also by the colour. Blue-white LED light has the most detrimental impact, and warm yellows have a lesser effect.
However, it is near impossible in the world we live in now to live by sunrise and sunset consistently, we all have multiple days where we stay up late using artificial light. This is where smart lighting has the most positive influence on our health by smart bulbs adjusting their colour to suit the time of day.

Smart Lighting Systems

So what is Smart Lighting? Well, traditional lighting involves a simple switch or dimmer in the wall that controls a single set of lights. Smart lighting takes this concept to the next level, it adds smart control from your fingertips and allows you the user to create the scenes you want from the comfort of your sofa. Smart Lighting enhances ambience while giving you total control of your home lighting.
There are two main forms of Smart lighting; Centralised and Retrofit.
Centralised lighting systems are normally installed when a home is going through a full refurbishment or is in the construction phase. This involves removing all the switches and dimmers from your walls and taking all those lighting circuits you have around the home back to a central panel. This method allows you to break up large lighting zones into more personalised ones allowing a high level of lighting control in a room. From this centralised panel, you have all your lights wired into smart dimmers and switches allowing a fully digital level of control. Where your regular switches and dimmers would be you would have a customisable keypad with all your lighting programmed on.

Smart shading and health - map of centralised control system - liv. technology
Lutron map of Centralised Lighting Control system. 

Retrofit systems allow you to bring almost the same level of customisation into your home by adding small smart dimmers or switches to your existing lighting circuits.

Smart shading and health - Retrofit Lighting Control System diagram - liv. technology
Lutron Map of Retrofit Lighting Control system.

Light is as impactful on our body’s health as an alarm clock is to our ears. Light has a huge effect on our circadian rhythm and artificial light can now be in sync with these rhythms in a way it never has been able to before. Smart lighting at home is constantly evolving and when you look at what Lutron are offering it truly can change the way we interact with our home. The latest evolution of Lutron’s total home control is the ability to have light fixtures that have tuneable white light. Having tuneable fixtures allows your home lights to replicate the natural colour of the sun through the day which allows for your body to maintain its rhythm even when stuck inside. Smart lighting can be scheduled to adjust throughout the day in intensity and colour to match our rhythm and work with it, rather than against it.

Smart shading and health - Light colour scale - liv. technology
Lighting colour temperature throughout the day.

When you combine Lutron’s Tuneable lighting into Savants cutting edge Daylight mode your whole home can automatically adjust through every day of the year without any external input giving you a seamless experience at home.

Smart shading and health - Savant DayLight mode - liv. technology
Savant Daylight mode.

Smart Shading and its benefits.

Adding Smart Shading into the mix with Smart Lighting only helps strengthen your home sleep health and routine. While an automated shading solution does have its aesthetic advantages by pairing your shades with your lighting scene you can further enhance your sleep and wake up pattern. Waking up to natural light coming into your room has a proven effect on one’s morning mood leading to a more positive state of mind. Another aspect of shading is that it helps to maintain a level of thermal control in the bedroom overnight, in the winter shades add a layer of insulation keeping the heat in and during the summer they help to reflect solar heat as well as UV back out keeping your room cool and protected.

Smart shading and health - Bedroom - liv. technology
Automated blinds from Lutron in one of our London projects.

Automated Heating & Cooling.

Whilst controlling the balance of light and darkness in one’s home is incredibly beneficial to one’s wellbeing so is temperature control. The difference in sleeping in a room that’s a few degrees too hot or cold can determine how well you sleep and recharge for the next day. By including thermostatic control in your home, you can add overnight temperatures to maintain in your bedroom ensuring that you can get the best possible sleep. All of this can be simply brought together with a home control system like Savant that can seamlessly coordinate your Lighting, shading and temperature control for a single controller or app.
After the disruption of the past few years as a result of the pandemic, our health and well-being are rightly becoming more of a priority than ever before. Having spent an unexpectedly large amount of time inside, the importance of these features has been highlighted even further. Automated lighting, shading and climate control have direct effects on the way our body functions, from the production of Melatonin to our mental state; these implementations can be the difference between a good and bad day.

For information on how liv can help bring a healthier environment using smart technology into your home contact liv today.

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